This week the NFL released the schedule for the 2012 season, with some teams having more difficult schedules than others. This article examines which squads have the most difficult 2012 schedules. My ratings were determined by a system I used based on number of opponents that made the playoffs in 2011, number of road games against 2011 playoff teams, night games, and consecutive games against 2011 playoff teams and/or division opponents.


Tied for the fifth most difficult schedule in 2012, are the Dallas Cowboys and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dallas Cowboys

In 2012, the Dallas Cowboys will play in seven games against teams that made the playoffs in 2011, which include two games against the New York Giants, and games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals, the New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons. Adding to Dallas’ difficulties is that they will play four of those games on the road, and play three of those games in weeks 14-16.

Additionally, Dallas will play four night games, which include a week one matchup with the New York Giants, a week four matchup against the Chicago Bears, a week nine matchup against the Atlanta Falcons and a week 13 matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Pittsburgh Steelers

In 2012, the Pittsburgh Steelers will play in six games against teams that made the playoffs in 2011, which include two games, against the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals, and games against, the Denver Broncos, and the New York Giants. Additionally, Pittsburgh will play four of those games on the road.

Two other factors making Pittsburgh’s schedule difficult is the fact that they will play five night games, and will play three division opponents in as many weeks, between weeks 11 and 13. Pittsburgh night games include a week one matchup with the Denver Broncos, a week six matchup with the Tennessee Titans, a week seven matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, a week 10 matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, and a week 11 matchup with the Baltimore Ravens.

Tied for the third most difficult schedule in 2012 are both in the AFC West division, and are the Denver Broncos, and the San Diego Chargers.

Denver Broncos

In 2012, Denver will be attempting to defend their AFC West title while dealing with one of the more difficult schedules in the league. In 2012, Denver will play in seven games against opponents that made the playoffs in 2011, with the team playing four of those games on the road. Denver’s first three opponents will be three of the teams that made the playoffs in 2011, which are the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Atlanta Falcons, and the Houston Texans. Denver will also play against, 2011 playoff teams, the New England Patriots, the New Orleans Saints, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens.

Additionally, Denver will play in five night games, which are a week one matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers, a week two matchup with the Atlanta Falcons, a week six matchup with the San Diego Chargers, a week eight matchup with the New Orleans Saints, and a week 14 matchup with the Oakland Raiders.  

San Diego Chargers

In 2012, San Diego will play in seven games against opponents that made the playoffs in 2011, which include two games with the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Atlanta Falcons, the New Orleans Saints, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Additionally, San Diego will play four of those games in consecutive weeks, from week 11 through week 14, while also playing three of the seven games on the road.

San Diego will play in five night games, which include a week one matchup with the Oakland Raiders, a week five matchup with the New Orleans Saints, a week six matchup with the Denver Broncos, a week nine matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs, and a week 16 matchup with the New York Jets.  

Tied for the most difficult schedule in 2012 are both from the NFC East division and are the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants.

Philadelphia Eagles

Making Philadelphia’s schedule difficult in 2012 is the fact that between weeks four and eight, the team will face five teams that made the playoffs in 2011, with a bye week in week seven. The five teams Philadelphia will face are the New York Giants, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Detroit Lions, the Atlanta Falcons, and the New Orleans Saints. Additionally, three out of Philadelphia’s seven games against 2011 playoff teams will be on the road.

Philadelphia will play in five night games, which include a week four matchup with the New York Giants, a week nine matchup with the New Orleans Saints, a week 12 matchup with the Carolina Panthers, a week 13 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, and a week 15 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals.  

New York Giants

Making New York’s schedule difficult in 2012 is the fact that between weeks nine and 17, six of the team’s eight opponents will be teams that made the playoffs during 2011. New York’s only other matchup with a team that made the playoffs in 2011, will be in week six against the San Francisco 49ers. Additionally, New York will play four out of the seven games against 2011 playoff opponents will be played on the road.

New York will play five night games, which include a week one matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, a week three matchup with the Carolina Panthers, a week four matchup with the Philadelphia Eagles, a week 12 matchup against the Green Bay Packers and a week 13 matchup with the Washington Redskins.

Final Analysis    
Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Denver, Philadelphia, and New York will all have uphill battles, if they hope to make the playoffs in 2012.